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Unformatted text preview: FEBRUARY 2005 OVERVIEW OF INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY 1 Christopher S. Wilson INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY: INTRODUCTION What do you do when someone copies a set of useful libraries from your source code, or the look and feel of your software application? Does it matter if the software is copied from source code, reverse engineered from an executable file, or copied off an EPROM? What if someone starts using the name of your product or service to sell their own products or services? 2 What if they change their corporate name to match yours? 3 Or perhaps someone changes the packaging of their product, such as the particular colours, shape or logo, to mimic yours? 4 Before problems arise, what can you do to protect a new algorithm you have invented for solving a complex equation or problem, or an idea for a new product or process you have come up with? How do you tell someone about your designs and ideas to obtain partners with the necessary resources or capital to bring them to market, but make sure they dont take the design or idea for themselves? What can you do, as an employer, to ensure that your employees cannot walk away with inventions they come up with on the job? What can you do, as an employee, to ensure that inventions you come up with after hours are actually yours? These are the types of questions that intellectual property law seeks to address. It doesnt have answers for all of them; it doesnt have easy answers for some of them; but in general it does provide a measure of protection for those intangible and tangible products resulting from creative human endeavours. The most important thing to remember about intellectual property law is that it does not protect ideas in their pure form. The only way to protect an idea in its pure form is not to tell anyone 1 Updated from a paper first published in Advising Business on Technology Issues , Continuing Legal Education Society of British Columbia, June 2004 2 See, e.g., Brewster Transport Co. v. Rocky Mountain Tours & Transport Co. ,  S.C.R. 336 3 See, e.g., Greystone Capital Management Inc . v. Greystone Properties Ltd . et al. (1999), 87 C.P.R. (3d) 43 (B.C.S.C.) 4 See, e.g., Source Perrier (Socit Anonyme) v. Canada Dry Ltd. (1982), 64 C.P.R. (2d) 116 (Ont. H.C.J.); Jay-Zee Food Products Inc. v. Home Juice Company Ltd . (1977), 32 C.P.R. (2d) 265 (Ont. H.C.J.); Visa International Service Assocation v. Visa Motel Corp c.o.b. Visa Leasing (1984), 1 C.P.R. (3d) 109 (B.C.C.A.) Patents Figure 1: Overview of Intellectual Property 2 BULL, HOUSSER & TUPPER FEBRUARY 2005 and even then you risk someone coming up with the same idea independently, and not being able to do anything about it....
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